How Anthony Bourdain Stays Thin: "I’m Hyperactive, Neurotic, I Chain-Smoke, Drink Too Much And Don’t Snack"
He has a coffee and cigarette for breakfast — plus two beers and two mixers daily. (This article first appeared in issue #811, May 4, 2006.)
The food and travel show host of No Reservations and A Cook’s Tour munches his way around the world, drinks like the proverbial fish, is allergic to the Stairmaster, and yet remains as thin as a breadstick. Over a gut-busting meal of pork terrine, foie gras, beef tenderloin, chocolate fondant, and beer when he visited Singapore last month, he tells us how he does it.
8 DAYS: How often do you go for food tastings?
ANTHONY BOURDAIN: When I’m travelling, it’s two large meals a day. When you’re the guest-of-honour in countries like China and Italy, the food just keeps on coming, sometimes as many as 13 dishes.
Do you always polish off what’s on your plate?
Most of the time I finish what’s on my plate and have seconds. Nice people are giving me their best and watching as I eat. It’s like being at granny’s house — she’d be insulted if you didn’t finish what she cooked.
So what do you eat when you’re not working?
I have a coffee and ciggie for breakfast. Two good meals are enough for me. A typical meal for me is one with lots of meat, cheese and alcohol. I was relieved [to find out about] the Atkins diet. I’m not particularly excited by vegetables unless they’re cooked in a duck fat.
We know this is a crazy question — but do you exercise at all?
Nope. But I don’t sit around watching TV, eating potato crisps. I’m reasonably vain, if I’m feeling fat, I don’t like it, so I eat less.
Do you know your cholesterol level and all those other indicators of health?
My blood pressure’s good, my cholesterol’s good. My lungs aren’t so good, but they’re still working. Keith Richards [the 62-year-old chain-smoking guitarist of The Rolling Stones] is still alive — he’s the benchmark I set myself against since he’s got the ultimate decadent lifestyle. Plus, my smoking and drinking [habit] is similar to his. I smoke two packs a day and I have about two beers and two mixers a day. But during [the filming of] a show, it’s erratic. In Korea, I had 16 shots of soju [distilled Korean liquor as potent as vodka] at one go — because everyone was toasting me. So every morning I go online and check if Keith’s still alive. Because if he is — then I’m in pretty good shape.
Cheers to Keith and you. But what we really wanna know is: how come you’re so damn skinny?
(Points at the cigarette he’s smoking) I’m losing weight sitting right here. I’ve got a high metabolism. I’m hyperactive, neurotic. I chain-smoke, drink too much and don’t snack. A lot of times I don’t have lunch, other times, I’m at a 22-course tasting meal. Life is different every day. I don’t have a compelling need to eat three full meals a day.